Jane Stirling explains how Glow makes a perfect medium for effective research into practice.
When Learning and Teaching Scotland carried out research into Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provision for practitioners working with children under the age of 3, the following barriers were among those identified:
lack of time to participate in CPD
lack of funding to access CPD
lack of suitable CPD opportunities for staff working with this age group.
As a result of the research a number of recommendations were made. North Lanarkshire Council (NLC), which was identified within the study as one local authority demonstrating effective practice with this age group, has been working in partnership with LTS to examine and implement the following two recommendations:
CPD initiatives with a specific focus on the under-3s should be developed on a multiagency basis, including key stakeholders such as education, health and social work. Such initiatives should involve managers and practitioners from private, voluntary and local
Less frequently used approaches such as distance and online learning, staff exchanges and job shadowing should be encouraged and supported.
Glow, the Scottish national intranet for education, provides the infrastructure to enable online learning and the exchange of ideas and practices to support virtual learning communities. Glow provides a range of web resources that can offer unique learning opportunities. Chat rooms (Glow Chat), newsgroups and instant messaging are built into the system, along with resources on net conferencing (Glow Meet), which allows text, voice and video conversations between users across the intranet. Practitioners can also use an online whiteboard to share their presentations with others.
Through this partnership working with North Lanarkshire, Learning and Teaching Scotland organised two Glow Meet sessions:
The North Lanarkshire Council Early Years settings along with their multi-agency partners (eg health, social work, psychological services and so on) shared examples of practice in real time, facilitating multi-agency group discussions.
Jacqué Fee, from the University of Strathclyde Research Team, linked up with the NLC Early Years Centres and their respective multiagency partners.
The session focused on the theory and practice of how to achieve effective integrated working and included interactive question and answer opportunities.
This partnership has highlighted that evidence-based practice can be improved through effective CPD opportunities, enabling their practice through the use of online learning environments.
Jane Stirling is a Development Officer with the Early Years team at Learning and Teaching Scotland. She will deliver a session entitled 'Making Connections Across the National Landscape' along with Jean Carwood- Edwards at the Scottish Learning Festival on 24 September 2009 at 2pm.